Cougar Tracks: Top 25 Again

Cougar Tracks: Top 25 Again

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For the fifth time in the last six seasons, the BYU Football team has finished the season ranked in the Top 25, and also ended the year highly ranked in multiple statistical categories.


BYU ended the 2011 campaign ranked 25th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and 26th in the AP Poll, in balloting released Tuesday morning, with the BCS Championship game providing the season's official conclusion.

The ranking means BYU is one of only 11 FBS programs nationally to be ranked five times in the last six seasons, with the Cougars joining Boise State, LSU, Ohio State, Oregon, Oklahoma, TCU, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Virginia Tech in that category.

BYU's "five Top 25s in six seasons" stretch is only the fourth such occurrence in school history, with the other instances occurring from 1979 through 1984, 1980 through 1985, and 1989 through 1994.

BYU's rankings streak may have benefited from USC's ineligibility to be included in the Coaches' poll. The Trojans inclusion in the AP survey bumped BYU to the "others receiving votes" list, with 51 voting points. 25th-ranked Cincinnati had more than double BYU's point total in the AP Poll.


BYU's 2011 performance was recognized with consistently solid rankings in the NCAA's Final FBS Statistics Report:

Categories in which BYU Finished in the Top 25, NCAA FBS Statistics

Rushing Defense19th
Pass Efficiency Defense15th
Total Defense13th
Scoring Defense22nd
Punt Returns25th
Tackles for Loss Allowed11th
First Downs19th
Third Down Conversion Percentage5th
Red Zone Defense8th
Time of Possession24th


BYU had multiple players rank in the Top 50 of the FBS stats:

BYU Players in the Top 50, NCAA FBS Statistics

Riley NelsonPass Efficiency16th
Cody HoffmanAll-Purpose Yardage26th
Cody HoffmanKickoff Return Yardage47th
Cody HoffmanReceiving Yards49th
J.D. FalslevPunt Return Yardage27th
Kyle Van NoyTackles for Loss48th
Uona KaveingaFumbles Forced28th
Corby EasonPasses Defended38th
Preston HadleyPasses Defended38th


As third down conversion represented BYU's most statistically impressive performance from this past season, here are a few notes:

BYU was successful on 64.1% of rushing third downs (64.3% in 2010) and 44.9% of passing third downs (36.4% in 2010).

BYU's third down conversion rate, by down:

BYU's Third Down Conversion Rates, by down

Third Down DistanceConversion Rate
185% (23/27)
279% (15/19)
350% (8/16)
479% (11/14)
562% (8/13)
647% (9/19)
733% (3/9)
855% (6/11)
920% (3/15)
1035% (8/23)
11-1520% (4/20)
16-200% (0/3)
21+0% (0/2)


BYU's third down conversions, by player:

Cody Hoffman: 19 (all Receiving)

Bryan Kariya:18 (16 Rushing, 2 Receiving)

Riley Nelson: 14 (all Rushing)

J.D. Falslev: 12 (all Receiving)

J.J. DuLuigi: 9 (5 Receiving, 4 Rushing)

Ross Apo: 8 (all Receiving)

McKay Jacobson: 5 (all Receiving)

Michael Alisa: 3 (all Rushing)

Marcus Mathews: 3 (all Receiving)

Richard Wilson: 2 (all Receiving)

James Lark: 2 (all Rushing)

Josh Quezada: 1 (Rushing)

Kaneakua Friel: 1 (Receiving)

Ryan Folsom: 1 (Rushing)

Total: 98 conversions in 191 attempts, 51.3%


Some other numbers of note:

BYU was 10-0 with the advantage in average starting field position (ASFP); 0-3 without the advantage. In seven seasons under Bronco Mendenhall, BYU is 51-6 (90%) when holding the ASFP advantage; 12-15 (44%) without it.

BYU was 9-1 when scoring 24 points or more in 2011. The only loss came v. TCU at Cowboys Stadium (L 38-28). Since the start of the 2006 season, BYU is 53-4 (93%) when scoring 24 or more.

BYU was 9-1 when allowing 24 points or fewer in 2011. The only loss came at Texas (L 17-16). Since the start of the 2007 season, BYU is 43-2 (96%) when allowing 24 points or fewer (loss at Utah in 2010, at Texas in 2011).

BYU was 6-0 with a positive turnover margin in 2011. Under Mendenhall, BYU is now 37-3 (93%) with a positive turnover margin; 17-18 (49%) when "minus" in the margin.


Greg Wrubell


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